Preacher makes some promises this week: We don’t have to be who we were. Good can win out over bad. Komodo dragons are tasty. But “South Will Rise Again” (and lookee there, another promise!) doesn’t offer much evidence that those promises can actually be kept.
We open in Ratwater, where the town apothecary tells the cowboy from episode 2 that the medicine his daughter needs won’t be ready until the next day. So the bearded stranger heads to the local saloon/brothel/hotel, which is full of every Old West cliché you can shake a set of spurs at.
The establishment’s proprietor asks if the cowboy wants “a whore room or sleep room.” (The other option is a free chair that come with a $5 bottle of whiskey, for you bargain shoppers.) As the cowboy looks around his home for the night, he stumbles across a group of men raping a woman (unconscious? dead?) as her child watches. The next day, he leaves with his medicine, riding past a hanging tree full of corpses. But when a child in a covered wagon greets him, cheerfully calling that his family’s on the way to Ratwater, the cowboy only hesitates a moment before delaying his return to his family and galloping toward town.
He arrives in time to interrupt the boy’s family selling scalps to the Ratwaterans, and he gets the old-timey tar kicked out of him for his trouble. Worse, he’s confronted by a former Union soldier, who remembers the cowboy fighting for the Confederacy at Gettysburg.
“I ain’t never seen a man more in love with killing than you,” the northerner says before shooting the cowboy’s horse dead. His attempt at doing good thwarted, the cowboy plods home on foot, where he finds crows pecking at the corpses of his wife and daughter. It’s not clear how they died, but what is clear is the cowboy straps on his gun belt. Nonreaders of the comics, aren’t you anxious to see how this storyline interacts with our present-day characters? And comic readers, aren’t you scared about how this storyline will be changed?
In present-day Annville, Jesse’s discussing church business at the diner with Emily, before getting drawn into a group of clean-cut youth who ask for his help ranking the gospels, Buzzfeed-style. (“Four Gospels Only ’90s Kids Will Love!”) When Emily tells him this behavior isn’t like him, he says it’s not him. It’s God. Incidentally, one of the youth has an unforgivable hipster mustache, and if Jesse really wanted to do God’s work, he should use the Word to get that dude to shave.
At Tulip’s house, Cassidy does some great eyebrow work when he wakes up to find her standing over him, demanding to know more about his vampiric condition, which leads to this fantastic exchange:
“Turn into a bat?”
“Sleep in a coffin?”
“Not if I can help it.”
“Afraid of the cross?”
“It’s a 2,000-year-old symbol of hypocrisy, slavery, and oppression. But it won’t burn me face off.”
Cass eventually cops that the sun bothers him, but SPF helps. Also, he prefers single malt to human blood. Cool customer Tulip takes it all in, denying his request to help him score some opiates, while Cassidy’s all Irish charm, telling her he’s fallen for her. She warns him she’s got a boyfriend; she’s just waiting for him to ditch his job so they can take revenge on someone who screwed them over. (Cue flashback to Carlos leaving them behind on that ill-fated job.)
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“We lost everything because of him. Took two years to track him down. Now I have, now I’ve found him, all’s that’s left to do is go over there and get him, tie him to a table, cut his freakin’ balls off and, over and over, stab him in the face with a screwdriver.”
“And your boyfriend said no to this?” Cass asks. But then he gets serious, telling her that her boyfriend might not be the man she thinks he is — obviously unaware the boyfriend in question is his new preacher pal.
NEXT: A smug Jesse uses his power to help Eugene